Is your eCommerce business ready to expand its operations overseas?
There are over two billion people worldwide who regularly purchase products and services online—with businesses in fashion, personal care, entertainment, and household goods generating the highest profits.
By expanding into new markets, or locales, your brand can grow its customer base and create additional streams of revenue. However, a poorly planned internationalization strategy can create many problems, such as wasted resources, customer experience (CX) issues, and even legal consequences. The goal is to create a unified eCommerce experience across all platforms and devices, regardless of the customer’s location—while also maintaining low overhead costs, efficient internal workflows, reliable data security, and scalability.
So if you think your business could benefit from engaging with other markets, but you don’t know much about internationalization, use this article as a jumping-off point.
Before we go any further, let’s break down the difference between internationalization and localization, as these two terms are commonly mistaken as the same:
- Ecommerce Internationalization is the overall process of selling products and services to buyers in foreign countries via the internet.
- Localization is the process of providing an eCommerce experience that’s tailored to foreign markets, with respect to their culture, language, currency, laws, and so on.
These are the key factors to keep in mind when approaching eCommerce internationalization.
Researching new markets
Before you start developing sales and marketing strategies for new markets, you need to be sure that there’s a demand for your business in those countries. And remember, internationalization doesn’t have to be a global effort. Rather, you should only focus on locales that show promise, based on in-depth industry research and expertise.
When determining whether a particular market is a good match for your business, these are three important signs to look out for:
- Buyers from that country are attempting to place orders on your eCommerce website.
- There are other businesses in your niche experiencing success in that area.
- The local search volume for your brand and its products is increasing.
- Social media users from that region follow your brand or are discussing it with other users.
Defining your market entry strategy
Once you have a list of markets to target, learn as much as you can about each one. What products in your niche are currently available there? Which products are the most successful? How much do they cost? And who is the target audience?
Analyzing the current state of your industry in each locale will help shape your sales and marketing strategy. With an understanding of what other companies in that region are doing, your brand is more likely to offer competitive prices, deliver content relevant to its audience, and facilitate a customer flow that maximizes engagement. Plus, if you discover a gap in the market, your business can use that as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
Supporting multiple currencies and payment methods
Your business’ online store will need to accept currencies from every country it sells products in. Fortunately, for companies that power their site with a modern eCommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, setting up multicurrency capabilities is fairly straightforward. These platforms—either natively or through a third-party integration—will automatically display the correct price to a customer during checkout, factoring in their location and the current exchange rate, along with shipping, taxes, and other fees.
You’ll also want to include as many payment options as possible in the checkout experience. After all, certain payment methods—such as PayPal—are more commonly used in the US than in other countries. Currently, the top global eCommerce payment methods are credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, wire transfers, and international ACH.
Different countries have different laws and regulations for eCommerce businesses. In countries like the US, France, and Australia, companies are required by the government to maintain a certain level of data security to protect their customer’s private information—such as payment credentials, shipping addresses, phone numbers, and so on. But in other countries, like Venezuela and Egypt, there is no legislation around data protection and privacy. Overall, the country with the strictest eCommerce regulations is China.
Expanding your business network
When expanding to new territories, you may need to bring on new employees and third-party service providers. Building a network of foreign resources, from suppliers to distributors, can be challenging. But with the right amount of research and industry expertise, you can find the right vendors without digging too deep into your bottom line.
Any additional technologies necessary for expansion should be integrated smoothly into your company’s technological ecosystem. This includes marketing tools, accounting software, and shipping and logistics apps. As always, the goal is to make sure your key business areas—from marketing, to finance, to fulfillment—are working together as one cohesive unit across all territories.
When a customer visits your business’ website, they should be presented with content that’s relevant and accessible to them. This process—known as localization—involves designing different versions of your site for different locales. Given that you’ll have specific strategies for engaging with specific audiences, each version of the site should have unique written and visual content—tailored to its respective market. For instance, you could have a UK version of your site, where all of the blogs, images, product recommendations, and customer reviews are localized for a British audience.
The key here is to leverage a CMS that supports multilingual content management and other internationalization capabilities—not to mention integrates with your business’ eCommerce platform, CRM, ERP, and other third-party apps. Being able to quickly and easily add, update, and change your site’s content is essential for maintaining a solid digital presence. Fortunately, with a modern CMS like WordPress, Contentful, or Drupal, you should be able to manage all of your international sites from an intuitive, centralized dashboard.
Getting started with eCommerce internationalization
Planning and executing a successful eCommerce internationalization strategy requires extensive experience, technical insight, and industry expertise—and that’s where Codal comes in. We’ve got over a decade of experience designing and developing solutions that enable our clients to sell internationally. Most recently, we completed a project for GOREWEAR—a multibillion-dollar outdoor brand—that allows the company to effectively manage its various international sites.
While you focus on running your business, our team will leverage cutting-edge technologies—along with in-depth market research and data—to expand your eCommerce operation into new territories. We will identify the best third-party apps for accepting multi-currency payments, managing finances, handling order fulfillment, and so on—then integrate those solutions seamlessly into your current business logic and tech stack.
With an eCommerce internationalization strategy powered by Codal, your business can expand its digital footprint, grow its customer base, and increase revenue—while also maintaining solid internal efficiency, data security, and compliance.
Interested in learning more about eCommerce internationalization? Get in touch with a member of our team today!